Monday, August 14, 2006

deaf ears

Since the new outbreak of hostilities between Israelis and Hezbollah fighters, Pope Benedict has called for an immediate and universal ceasefire. He has taken a lot of heat in the national press because of it. One side is outraged because the Pope doesn't call Hezbollah a terrorist organization and blame it for the renewed violence. The other side is enraged because the Pope hasn't explicitly condemned Israel for the disproportionate use of force in attacking its foes in Lebanon.

Fox News, O'Reilly in particular, has taken issue with Pope Benedict because he demands that no more blood be shed, but offers no specific solution for the problem.

It would seem that even the media people that refer to themselves as Catholics have a hard time understanding - or remembering - what message (whose message!) the Holy Father is called to proclaim to the world.

A passage from Luke's gospel comes to mind.

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." (12, 13-15)

When asked to take sides, when pressed to negotiate a settlement between people at odds with each other, Jesus refuses. He instead enunciates a moral principle, he enlightens man's conscience with revealed truth and leaves the task of its practical application to the parties involved.

The Pope's role on the world stage is to speak for Christ. He cannot take sides, he cannot broker political compromises for international grievances. He is right to condemn the violence, to decry the killing and to urge for peace. As Vicar of Christ he can do no less.

The Pope is to be as a lighthouse on history's turbulent seas: illuminate, show the way to safe harbor. But the rowing, steering and maneuvering is left to each ship on the horizon.

That said, those called upon to explain the Church's stance or the Pope's statements in the media should refer constantly to the fundamental mission: to speak the truth of Christ even when it falls on deaf ears.

The Exorcist gets royally peeved when Catholic media folks are fuzzy or downright contradictory. One favorite example: Fr. Jonathan Morris, who reports and writes for Fox News, is presumably on board to enounce and clarify the Catholic message. It's bad enough that on most subjects his fatuous, feelgood approach barely skims the surface of true Catholic thought. But on issues such as the present conflict in Lebanon he prefers to adopt the network's agenda over the position laid out by the Pope and other Church leaders. He seems to enjoy playing TV reporter so much that he abandons the far more challenging role of intelligently and eloquently giving voice to the Catholic mind, to Christ's teaching. His embarrassing attempt at an interview with Muslims gathered outside a London mosque a few days ago is a glaring example.

The Exorcist won't deny the soothing therapeutic effect occasional Morris-bashing has on his psyche, but it goes beyond that.

"He who hears you, hears me."

We, of all people, cannot remain silent. But we must ensure that the message is His and not something of our own fabrication.